Ann Conkle
Feb 27, 2012

Researchers isolate egg-producing stem cells from adult ovaries

For the first time, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) researchers have isolated egg-producing stem cells from the ovaries of reproductive age women and shown these cells can produce what appear to be normal egg cells or oocytes. In the March issue of Nature Medicine, the team reports the latest follow-up study to their now-landmark 2004 Nature paper that first suggested female mammals continue producing egg cells into adulthood. "The primary objective ... was to prove that oocyte-producing stem cells do in fact exist in the ovaries of women during reproductive life, which we feel this study demonstrates very clearly," says Jonathan Tilly, director of the Vincent Center for Reproductive Biology at MGH, who led the study. "The discovery of oocyte precursor cells in adult human ovaries ... opens the door for development of unprecedented technologies to overcome infertility in women and perhaps even delay the timing of ovarian failure."